I recently came across an article that had a title that caught my attention, “Time to Tend to Our Souls: Coronavirus May Allow Us to Address the Distractions that Separate Us from Each Other [and from God],” but when I checked the author and found out that he was from a more conservative denomination and theology than I subscribe to, I sat it aside, thinking I would try to get back to it when I had time. A couple of times, in cleaning up my piles of newspapers, I almost threw it away without reading it, but I’m sure glad I saved it. This ended up being yet another lesson on not letting my biases keep me from finding gold! The author, Ryan Sanders, is a pastor at Irving Bible Church, and he highlights Father Peter Verhalen, who is the abbot at Cistercian Abbey, a Catholic monastery also in Irving. I found out later that Fr. Peter and another eight of the monks at Cistercian Abbey had come down with COVID-19, two of them hospitalized, which made the article even more meaningful to me. A Bible church pastor and a Cistercian monk might not seem a likely pairing, but I am sure glad they came together with their wisdom in this article, which I think might resonate with all of us who work in the Collaborative community, whether the reader is religious or not. One of the Dallas Collaborative Practice groups has traveled a couple of times to a monastery in Boston for their annual retreat; we heard from one of the monks that was their leader at that retreat a couple of years ago at our Collaborative Conference. He talked about the lessons to be learned from solitude and listening. Now, the rest of us have been forced (or some might say, gifted with the privilege) to learn some lessons that come from solitude.
Kris Algert has said, if I can paraphrase, “What a gift to be able to be the same person from the time we get out of bed in the morning and put our feet on the floor until we put them back into bed at night.” There are many of Kris’ quotes that she probably does not know I commonly reference, but this is one of my favorites because it says so much – I sort of consider it our personal mission statement in the Collaborative movement—it says what the gift Collaborative is for US as Collaborative professionals rather than just what it is for our clients.
Dr. Richard Warshak sent me this quote from a lawyer in Los Angeles named Leslie Shear. He asked her permission for me to use it. Here is what she said:
“With the estimate of a minimum of 4 months of staying safer at home, and the huge backlogs of serious child support and spousal support modifications, decompensation under stress, etc. we are not looking at child custody adjudications as we once knew them for a long, long time.
“I think that this is a turning point and we will need new models — immediately and in whatever emerges from this crisis.
“Most of the family law population is not being served by the family courts (and the family courts cannot do much for a very long time) so it is time for us each (and collectively) to be creative, nimble and useful in new ways. (And the public will have far less $$ to pay for our services.)”
Leslie Shear is giving us our CALL TO ACTION for Collaborative Divorce. While we are all struggling with what this new normal is going to look like for the short and long-term, we can be sure it has already changed and will continue to change our profession, both those of us who still litigate and those of us who only do Collaborative Divorce and mediation now. So, I have been preparing for how we take this moment—possibly OUR moment, the moment we have been waiting for, to be the tipping point for the Collaborative Divorce Movement. No amount of publicity on a billboard or any other media would have given us this kind of opportunity, but if we do not grab it in the next few weeks, this opportunity may well be lost to us forever.
What I am talking about is the opportunity to help educate the public about Collaborative Divorce as an option for their family law matter. We need to tell every client that they need not wait until the Courthouses reopen to handle their case, that we have been here all along, and that we are ready to move their case forward in the privacy of our offices and on Zoom meetings RIGHT NOW. While the Courts struggle with reopening and handling the tsunami of cases that will undoubtedly be knocking on their doors in the coming months, instead of become frustrated with the wait, our Collaborative Divorce clients can move on with their lives thanks to our being ready to take care of them at this monumental moment. And this can help us get the word out to the public by demonstrating what we have to offer. But we must get ready. How?
On May 1, CDT is sponsoring a May Webinar “It Collaborative’s Time to Shine.” Tim Crouch (Carol Mapp, Suzanne Blake and I) will be presenting a webinar that will hopefully give you some ideas and tools to help you to be ready for this moment. Part of my work in getting ready for this moment has been to read and study ways to give us each a system within our offices, within our practice groups and statewide—all going in the same direction (as Tim says), to get traction in our movement in a way we never have before. Please join us on May 1 on the CDT webinar and help us grab this, our moment, and give more clients and the world the gift of Collaborative.